Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer reading

So far this summer we've been reading voraciously, enjoying the long lazy evenings on the porch with a stack of books and magazines that go untouched during the busier seasons. But, as you can probably guess, we're not really into fluffy romantic novels. Too bad, too, because what we've been reading is pretty heavy.

First, let us just say that Cormac McCarthy's The Road scared the heck out of us.
The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, each the other's world entire, are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.
And they do mean total devastation- there are no birds, all the plants are dead, there is no life in the sea. Post-apocalyptic and depressing, but absolutely riveting. It is also a fast read, so the end comes quickly and one is very grateful for that.

On the flip-side, Alan Weisman's The World Without Us is about a world without any more humans, but the rest of life goes on (depleted as it is by our lasting legacy). It is more optimistic than The Road, but maybe that is because Weisman envisions a world without roads:
The World Without Us reveals how, just days after humans disappear, floods in New York’s subways would start eroding the city’s foundations, and how, as the world’s cities crumble, asphalt jungles would give way to real ones. It describes the distinct ways that organic and chemically treated farms would revert to wild, how billions more birds would flourish, and how cockroaches in unheated cities would perish without us.
So, you know, kind of inspiring. He also references the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, and urges folks to stop reproducing exponentially. It's also a quick read, though there are enough provocative ideas and references that it is worth a slower second look.

Next up: Cradle to Cradle. (Unless someone has a better idea or recommendation. If so, please leave it in the comments!)

Monday, June 08, 2009

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Twitter is the lazy man's blog


You may have noticed that we started "tweeting" lately, by putting up <140 character responses to whatever we're reading and thinking, etc. We admit: we're being lazy. It's summer and we're ready for vacation or inspiration. Or "field work."

Here's our latest field observation: We just saw a truck with this bumper sticker:
COWBOYS RULE. ALLWAYS HAVE, ALLWAYS WILL.
Indeed, in a parallel universe where "always" is spelled with a double "l," they just might. But in this universe of the western United States, "always" is really not more than 130 years. Just because most folks remember a west dominated by land-degrading livestock use does not mean that this hegemony should or will persist. The rules are changing, cowwboyys.